Caffeine, a stimulant, is found in a variety of foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate.
While most people can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day, maternal caffeine intake in moderate amounts (less than 200 mg a day) is generally considered safe.
Because caffeine passes through the placenta to the baby, it can affect both mom’s and baby’s health, ranging from sleep disturbances to low birth weight.
Pregnant women should turn to natural ways to get energy, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet.
You might typically jumpstart your day by drinking a cup of coffee. After all, it contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. But now that you’re pregnant, should you abandon your morning ritual? Should you consume caffeine when you’re expecting? And if so, How much caffeine during pregnancy is considered safe?
Keep reading to learn more about the effects of caffeine, and How much caffeine during pregnancy is safe for you and your baby.
Where Is Caffeine Commonly Found?
You might be surprised to learn where caffeine shows up in your diet, including both obvious and not-so-obvious food sources.
Coffee (including hot brewed coffee, latté, espresso, and specialty coffee)
Coffee-flavored products (think ice cream and yogurt)
Soft drinks (like colas and other sodas)
Chocolate (including candy, chocolate syrup, and cocoa)
What’s the actual caffeine content of specific foods and beverages? It can vary widely depending on the brand, product type, processing, and brewing time. [1,2,3,4]
8 oz. herbal tea: 0 mg
4 oz. coffee-flavored ice cream or frozen yogurt: 2 mg
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup: 3 mg
8 oz. decaffeinated tea: 2 mg
8 oz. chocolate milk: 5-8 mg
1 oz. milk chocolate: 6 mg
8 oz. hot chocolate: 8-12 mg
8 oz. decaffeinated coffee: 2-15 mg
8 oz. green or black tea: 14-60 mg
1 oz. dark chocolate: 24 mg
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips: 26-28 mg
8 oz. instant tea: 26-36 mg
12 oz. soft drink: 30-55 mg
8 oz. energy drink: 40-250 mg
8 oz. instant coffee: 60-100 mg
Espresso: 65 mg
8 oz. brewed coffee: 80-200 mg
How Can Caffeine Affect You And Your Baby?
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should ask your health care provider about whether to limit or avoid caffeine altogether. Why? Because in pregnant women, caffeine passes through the placenta to the baby; and in breastfeeding women, a small amount of caffeine gets passed along to the baby in breastmilk. 
What happens if you do consume too much caffeine? It can lead to a variety of health problems, such as: [3,5,6,7]
Restlessness and shakiness
Sleep interference for both mom and baby
Increased heart rate
Increased urination (which can lead to loss of key minerals, including calcium)
How Much Is Too Much?
Most people can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day, which is about four or five cups of coffee.  However, pregnant women (and nursing moms, too) need to be more cautious with caffeine consumption.
So how much caffeine during pregnancy can you have? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women should keep their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day, which is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee. However, keep in mind that caffeine is also present in tea and chocolate, as we mentioned above.
Also, know that certain nutrients play key roles in your energy level. For instance, the class of 8 B vitamins (especially Vitamin B12) helps with “energy metabolism” by breaking down the food you eat into cellular energy your body can use all day long. Magnesium helps change carbohydrates and fats into energy your body can use, while Iron helps transport oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. Finally, if your blood levels are low in vitamin D, this can lead to feeling fatigued or tired. Because so many nutrients can affect whether or not you have low energy, it’s important to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. To help to bridge any potential nutrient gaps, talk to your doctor about taking a prenatal supplement.†
For the best pregnancy outcomes, expecting women should follow a healthy lifestyle—which includes eating a nutritious diet. But when it comes to giving up caffeine for nine months, that can be challenging. How much caffeine during pregnancy is safe? Most people can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day, but pregnant and breastfeeding women need to take a more moderate approach to caffeine consumption of less than 200 mg a day. Because caffeine passes through the placenta to the baby, it can affect both mom’s and baby’s health.Switching to decaf coffee, decaf tea, or herbal tea can help reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy.
Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
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